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Web server

Contributor(s): James B. Lingan

A Web server is a program that uses HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) to serve the files that form Web pages to users, in response to their requests, which are forwarded by their computers' HTTP clients. Dedicated computers and appliances may be referred to as Web servers as well.

The process is an example of the client/server model. All computers that host Web sites must have Web server programs. Leading Web servers include Apache (the most widely-installed Web server), Microsoft's Internet Information Server (IIS) and nginx (pronounced engine X) from NGNIX. Other Web servers include Novell's NetWare server, Google Web Server (GWS) and IBM's family of Domino servers.

Web servers often come as part of a larger package of Internet- and intranet-related programs for serving email, downloading requests for File Transfer Protocol (FTP) files, and building and publishing Web pages. Considerations in choosing a Web server include how well it works with the operating system and other servers, its ability to handle server-side programming, security characteristics, and  the particular publishing, search engine and site building tools that come with it.

See an introductory tutorial on Web servers:

This was last updated in July 2015

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